Parenting trends come and go with the times. If you’ve been around on this earth long enough, you have probably seen a diverse range of advice, from the solid classics to the completely looney.
Every culture has their own set of rules regarding what works best to produce a well-adjusted child, as does every family. But child-rearing experts have put together a set of tips that are most likely to help parents raise happy, healthy and well-adjusted children. Isn’t that what we all want for our society? Let’s have a look at what they advise.
To raise a well-adjusted child, get yourself adjusted first
It’s no secret that your child’s best chance at becoming an emotionally-mature, well-functioning human is being surrounded by the same. So make sure that you have worked on your own childhood issues before you start your family. Call in outside help, if necessary, in the form of a counselor or psychologist.
Depression in mothers can have a negative impact on their children, making them feel insecure and unsafe.
You owe it to your child to be the most mentally balanced, spiritually healthy grown-up you can be as you guide them towards who they will become as adults. You are entitled to off days, and bad moods, of course.
Just be sure to explain to your little one that it has nothing to do with them: “Mommy’s having a bad day, but things will look better in the morning.”
Teach them the importance of relationship building
When you see two kids fighting in the playground, don’t just separate and chastise them. Teach them how to work things out in a productive way.
Sure, it takes more energy to start a conversation about being fair and just, rather than just tell them to stop fighting, but in the long run, your role is to teach kids good communication skills, especially when dealing with conflict.
You will want to model this at home, too. When you and your spouse fight, rather than leaving the room and pouting for the rest of the day, show you, children, what it is like to have a reasonable discussion, working through the issue until both parties find a fair resolution.
Make sure your children see you and your spouse apologize to each other and kiss and make up.
That is one of the best lessons they can see: that conflict is not a permanent state, and that good thing can happen when problems get solved.
Some things are non-negotiable
Children need boundaries and limits to feel safe in their world. If a parent never enforces bedtime, allowing the child to decide when to go to bed on his own (this was an actual trend in the hippie era), this can have a negative impact on the health and well-being of the child.
They are not old enough to know that a good night’s sleep is essential to their growth so they will abuse this if you are not firm on this boundary. The same for meal schedules, teeth brushing, leaving the playground when it’s time to go home. Children will try and negotiate all these situations, and it is your job to stay firm.
It is hard not to try and please your child by giving in to his demands “just this once”, but resist.
If they see they can bend you, they will try and do so over and over. This is not a model you want to teach them. Society has laws that need to be respected, and your family has them, too, in the form of rules. Ultimately you are helping your child feel secure by standing firm, so don’t feel guilty.
Well-adjusted children possess Emotional Intelligence
Help your child form this by using three simple techniques when your child is feeling angry or stressed: Empathize, Label and Validate.
Imagine you have refused your child’s request to eat some candy before dinner. He is having a meltdown:
Child: “I want that candy! Give me that candy!”
You (in a gentle voice): “You are mad because you can’t have the candy right now. But we are about to have dinner. I know it makes you mad to have to wait until dessert to have candy. Tell me about that feeling.”
Child: “Yeah, I’m mad. I really want that candy. But I guess I can wait until after dinner.”
You see what happens? The child identifies he is angry and he is grateful you have heard that. You could have just said “No candy before dinner. That’s the rule” but that would not have addressed the child’s feelings. When you validate their feelings, you show them what emotional intelligence is, and they will go on to model that.
Consistently is a key element in raising a well-adjusted child
Don’t flip-flop on routine. Even if it means leaving a birthday party early so that your child gets his nap in. Unlike adults, children’s body clocks are not very flexible, and if they miss a meal or a nap, it can have negative consequences.
Their worlds run better if you respect a consistent schedule with them. Like boundaries, consistency makes them feel secure and solid; they need the predictability of these daily touchpoints. So mealtimes, naptimes and bedtimes are all set in stone; prioritize these.